Mumsnet Book of the Month - January 2008

Here we are, slap bang in the middle of the Christmas comedown. All you can see is scraps of turkey, wrapping paper and those dastardly little wire twizzle things that hold China’s finest plastic in place. You’re suffering from horrendously early stocking-fuelled wakeup calls (can anyone beat 3.30a.m?) and you’ve got serious doubt that there’s any money left for even a pint of milk. So lets cheer ourselves up with funny books. This is dangerous ground, I acknowledge. Many books claiming to be ‘hilarious’ are as amusing as a wishbone stuck in the throat. But all these three are properly witty and might just restore your faith in humour, post-cracker jokes.


First up is a novel made for Mumsnetters, The Giles Wareing Hater’s Club. Freelance journalist Giles is suffering from a mid-life crisis, which becomes vastly exacerbated when he Googles himself and finds a chatroom dedicated to discussing how much everyone hates him and his writing. He can’t resist getting involved, posting his own comments about himself and trying to find out who is involved. Author Tim Dowling is a Guardian journalist/columnist and you feel a fair amount of his own life dilemmas have been packed in here, but he is undeniably brilliant at satirising modern life, from internet paranoia to TV talkshows, family crises to celebrities. Very funny and perfect for everyone who’s felt the fear of the internet messageboard… Buy it here


Second is a non-fiction travelogue by comedian Stuart Maconie (he’s the one that’s always on Never Mind the Buzzcocks, plus was in Phoenix Nights and has his own show on Radio 2). A northerner in London exile, shocked at his casual ‘southerner’ use of cappuccino makers and sundried tomatoes, Stuart goes in search of The Real North and whether it still exists. He manages to avoid making the book a rant or a dig at southerners; it is a warm, jolly journey in search of where the cliches end and the truth begins, encountering Scousers, Scallies, pie-eating Woolly-backs, topless Geordies, mad-for-it Mancs, Yorkshire nationalists and many others. A sort of home-grown Bill Bryson, with chips… Buy it here



And thirdly, one of the most successful debuts of 2007. Marie Phillips worked in a bookshop whilst beavering away on her first novel about Greek gods who find themselves living in modern North London. The head of publishers Jonathan Cape read it overnight and offered her an enormous advance on the spot. Featuring all the old favourites in new guises – Apollo is a TV psychic; Aphrodite a telephone sex-line operator; Artemis a dogwalker – the selfish antics of these hard-up immortals become entwined with those mortals unlucky enough to take a trip to the Underworld. A light but clever romantic comedy stuffed with intelligent tricks… Buy it here


Which one tickles your fancy? Vote here for the book to jolly us through the grimness that is January.

Last updated: about 3 years ago